While reading showbiz magazines or watching our favorite TV “entertainment news” programs, we may sometimes ask ourselves if the so-called entertainment journalists have their own set of professional and ethical standards in reporting showbiz news.
After all, they do the exact opposite of what is taught at journalism school. “Entertainment journalists” tend to use rumor as basis of their “reports.” They resort to blind items as they tell stories concerning celebrities. It is also public knowledge that these so-called journalists also act as managers of some celebrities, raising the issue of conflict of interest especially when they do commentaries on celebrities they handle. What makes matters worse is that the more “established entertainment journalists” are actually celebrities themselves, enjoying the same perks as the talents they handle in terms of endorsement deals and hosting gigs. Some of them even make use of whatever they call talents in acting and singing.
Their choices of topics and angles also prove to be questionable, at least for the discerning media consumers. What is so important about an artist’s personal life, particularly his or her love interest? Why should even a child actor be paired with another so that they could “blossom” into a love team? How come a celebrity’s rant in his or her Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts be more important than, say, a critical analysis of a cutting-edge feature animation that reflects Filipino culture and history?
There are so many things to say about the questions they usually ask: Have you moved on from your relationship? Are you single right now? Do you see yourself being in a relationship in the near future? The magic mirror is in front of you. What do you have to say to yourself?
I have a problem with asking celebrities these questions not only because of their predictability but mainly because of their triviality. It is bad enough that celebrities come up with the most “cliché-ish” and often well-prepared answers. What proves to be worse is that their “statements” contribute little to the discourse on whatever projects they may be doing (e.g., roles in upcoming feature films or concepts of upcoming concerts).
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with using interviews to inform media audiences of their future projects, it is necessary for “entertainment journalists” to focus more on the content of the projects rather than the personal lives of celebrities featured in them. Does it really matter, for example, if the leading actors are already an item? If this were not the case, why should a leading man’s actual girlfriend be jealous of his leading lady when everybody knows that the “on-screen romance” is, as the latter phrase suggests, not for real?
There are indeed many problems besetting “entertainment journalism” right now, the most fundamental of which is that it can hardly be called journalism. As far as I’m concerned, any media output that uses rumor and trivia should not be called journalistic pieces and they deserve to be ignored by the discerning media consumers.
There is only one set of standards in journalism. The so-called entertainment journalists cannot forever hide behind their popularity as they poison the minds of media consumers and fail in their duty to provide meaningful information.